A case of misplaced passion

My Nikkel's Worth column

A 16-year-old girl from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, has captured the attention of media outlets and social media platforms with her very passionate declarations about the climate.

There is no doubt about how truly and deeply passionate she is about this, if you watched her speak at all, such as at the United Nations, scolding the representatives of countries from around the world.

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She said we are on the verge of a “mass extinction”, and with definite anger in her eyes and her voice, she stated, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words … if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”

Thunberg also said she didn’t want to hear empty promises, but to see real action on climate change made by all of the world’s leaders and governments.

At the risk of having people march up and down in the streets with signs declaring that I am a monster and whatever, I would like to suggest that while Greta is quite sincere and moving in her declarations, I really think she is sincerely wrong, and is way, way over-stating the seriousness of the situation.

Yes, there are challenges in our environment, and moving forward, there are actions we could and should take as communities and as a nation, but be realistic — we are not on the verge of a “mass extinction” of the planet, we are a long, long ways from it. This is a gross exaggeration — she makes the point, yes, but people can’t take a statement like that literally.

Just to inject a little bit of perspective here, there were some posts on Facebook that showed children who have truly had their childhoods stolen from them, like children in Third World countries who struggle to live and just to find food to eat.

These are children who may be orphaned and are living on the street, going through mountains of garbage to find any kind of sustenance at all to live, and there are examples of these children from Rio, Africa, or from other major urban cities around the world — these children can actually claim that their dreams and childhoods were stolen from them. I very much doubt Greta can say in all truthfulness that this the case for her.

We do need to reduce greenhouse emissions and air pollution, yes, and improve how we treat the environment, but can we tone down the rhetoric just a little bit?

Canada is doing quite well in this regard, but countries like India and China are not — you can literally not see across the street in places where their pollution is really, really bad. We can do our bit,  yes — but everyone has to be on board, not just us with our regressive carbon tax.